Why I have condoms and Lego at my desk.

If you work in public health, there are numerous messages that have become the mainstay of your vocabulary, for example:

  • Apply sunscreen liberally and frequently.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Physical activity improves your health.
  • Breast is best.
  • Use a condom.
  • Eat your vegetables and fruits.
  • Get your flu shot.

All of these messages are evidence-based, important to the general public and covers many areas of popular interest.

One big problem: Folks have tuned out of them.

I have a lively bunch of Lego figurines at my desk and a pile of condoms. The condoms at my desk remind me of the mainstay public health messages (yes…I know condoms are important) and the Lego reminds me that I need to design content that keeps up with the times. Content that catches people’s attention is palateable, relateable and ultimately…is entertaining.

Lego is classic. It’s continued to have a die-hard following, as well as inspired new generations of Lego-lovers. It’s essence is always the same: the little yellow bricks that you unleash your imagination with. Yet, it reinvents itself constantly through strategic marketing, brand building and keeping up with the times (think Olympic, Star Wars and international Lego pieces).  How do we get people to tune back into classic public health education?

Infotainment

Infotainment is simply content that is meant to entertain AND inform. Examples of infotainment can be found globally in public health. Everything from popular theatre, to zines, soap operas, cartoons, music…the list goes on.

Great examples of educational info that’s also entertaining:

Middlesex-London Health Unit – Adventures in Sex City game

Canadian Stroke Network salt app

Safer Sex For Seniors kama sutra video

Three Amigos public service announcement talking condoms. (oldie but a goodie)

Keeping the integrity of your message while entertaining your audience is the nirvana of public health on social media.

Arguably, you may say ‘Nicole, we don’t need to be funny. We have an important message and we are a serious institution that people trust and expect to be serious’. True in every way. But what catches your attention, the video of the cat playing the piano or the anti-smoking PSA with a talking head? Check out my post on Why Public Health PSAs don’t go viral.

What do you think? Does public health need to be entertaining or is information enough? Does entertainment undervalue the seriousness of the issues?

IMG_20130227_153235lego

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One response to “Why I have condoms and Lego at my desk.

  1. Pingback: Attack on Anti-vac – Toronto Public Health vs. Jenny Mcarthy | Public Health and Social Media·

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